Remember when hula-hoops, sock hops, drive-in movies, and fins were all the craze? Ah, the good ol’ Fifties! Today’s senior adults were busy raising young families during the decade, but they still managed to find time for some good old-fashioned fun. Your group will enjoy reminiscing about leisure and recreation in the Fabulous Fifties. Here are some activities to elicit memories of family time.

  • Ask participants to recall memories of the television game show Name That Tune, which first aired in the 1950s. Hold a 1950s Name That Tune contest. Encourage group members to name the title and artist of old fifties songs.
  • Relive the days of the pet poodle craze. Pass around old poodle collectibles, such as a poodle skirt, stuffed poodle, poodle figurine, poodle pin, or poodle planter. Ask if anyone owned a toy poodle as a family pet.
  • Hold a 1950s costume contest. Suggestions: greaser, beatnik, Elvis, carhop, soda jerk, cheerleader.
  • Share photographs of old-fashioned roadside diners of the 1950s. Describe the decor and the food choices. What songs did participants listen to on the jukebox? Sample a diner treat – an ice cream sundae (ice cream, chocolate syrup, whipped cream, and a cherry on top).
  • Hold a Scrabble competition or bridge tournament. Or, play some favorite card games of the 1950s, e.g., rummy, canasta, hearts.
  • Enjoy the hilarity of the comedy duo, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, by watching one of their old movies or episodes from The Colgate Comedy Hour , which ran on NBC in the1950s.
  • Share recollections of 1950s backyard barbecues. What do the men remember about grilling for the neighborhood get-togethers? Share recipes from Betty Crocker cookbooks of the decade.
  • Enjoy a “Mitch Miller and His Gang” sing-along. The Sing Along with Mitch albums of the 50s featured a chorus singing old favorite tunes. Try “The Yellow Rose of Texas,” “Carolina in the Morning,” or “By the Light of the Silvery Moon.”
  • Chuckle at old Peanuts comic strips, which debuted in the 1950s. Encourage group members to share some insights they have learned from the Peanuts characters.
  • Lip sync to 1950s pop singers, like Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis, Doris Day, Connie Francis, or Patti Page. Remember “Love and Marriage” or “How Much is That Doggie in the Window”?
  • Share memories of summer vacations/day trips in the family station wagon. Show pictures of an old Ford Country Squire or Buick Roadmaster. Ask: What was it like to travel in a station wagon? What were some of your favorite vacation spots? Did you ever travel on Route 66? What do you remember about the newly built interstate highways?
  • Ask participants to describe the impact of Walt Disney on family entertainment in the 1950s. Mention The Mickey Mouse Club; the opening of Disneyland in 1955; and the 1950s films Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Peter Pan, and Lady and the Tramp.
  • Share family photographs of children playing Little League Baseball. Ask group members if their whole family became involved in the sport, as a coach, player, or fan. Read this popular baseball poem aloud to your group: “Casey at the Bat.”
  • Ask participants what they remember about a 1950s ice cream parlor, pizza parlor, drive-in movie theatre, bowling alley, or record shop.
  • Enjoy some wholesome 1950s entertainment by watching one of these favorite musicals:Oklahoma! Show Boat, Carousel, Singin’ in the Rain, or South Pacific.


Television quiz shows were popular in the Fifties. Try a trivia quiz with your group. Read each clue about a celebrity in the Fifties and ask group members to name the person.

  1. He hosted a Saturday night variety show that featured “champagne music.” Lawrence Welk
  2. He was a famous composer and a conductor of the New York Philharmonic. Leonard Bernstein
  3. This glamorous movie actress with violet eyes was once married to Eddie Fisher. Elizabeth Taylor
  4. This movie star left Hollywood to marry Prince Rainier of Monaco. Grace Kelly
  5. He was the first host of The Tonight Show. Steve Allen
  6. He wrote the popular parenting book, The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care. Dr. Benjamin Spock
  7. He served as U.S. president from 1953-1961. Dwight Eisenhower
  8. This all-star Yankee catcher and team manager became famous for his “yogiisms.” (Example: “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”) Yogi Berra
  9. He became Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1953. Earl Warren
  10. He won the Pulitzer Prize for drama for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Tennessee Williams


“Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

 “FIFTIES FAMILY FUN” written by Sue Hansen. © 2007 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.

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